Reduction In Force or Racially Motivated Termination?

Many times workers face the difficult situation of being laid off as the result of a “reduction in force.” But how do you know if that reduction in force is really masking employment discrimination? In a recent case – Rachells v. Cingular Wireless Emp. Servs., LLC, – a black employee – Rachells – alleged that he was “singled out for impermissible reasons.” The court agreed with the worker, noting that after looking at the worker’s record of outstanding results, including top sales among his peers for several years, several red flags were raised concerning the company’s purported nondiscriminatory reasons for terminating a top performer.

If you have questions about employment discrimination or what’s appropriate in RIFs, it’s important that you consult with a top Atlanta employment attorney right away.

Here, this issue arose after Rachells, a national retail account executive in Cleveland was terminated by Cingular Wireless during a 2005 reduction in force, despite having a sales record superior to the three white employees in his group who were retained. The Sixth Circuit appellate court reviewed the case and found that the lower court impermissible disregarded “two crucial categories of evidence”: evidence of Rachells’ “superior qualifications” and affidavits from two former Cingular employees attesting to a racially discriminatory work environment.

If your company has laid you off during a RIF its important that you take a look around you and ensure hat your employer is not trying to use an “RIF” to employ discriminatory tactics to get rid of workers. For more information, or if you need an experienced discrimination lawyer, please contact the top Atlanta discrimination attorneys at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP for an immediate case evaluation.

In this instance, after Cingular wireless acquired AT&T, the company evaluated each employee and ranked Rachells 7th out of 9, although he had a higher sales performance record. As part of the RIF however, the company took into consideration inappropriate criteria and a “comparator group” that was significantly different. The Sixth Circuit said the district court made multiple errors in analyzing Rachells’ case including using different criteria to evaluate the candidates and having different people make the evaluations.

Here, because the company used a significantly different comparator group along with additional evidence that showed race-based discrimination” within Cingular’s Cleveland region, the appellate court found that Rachells could maintain his case for race discrimination.

For more information or if you believe you may have been subjected to race bias at work, please contact the top Atlanta race discrimination attorneys at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP for an immediate case evaluation.